Ethics, Mental Health and Buddhism

Subject Overview

This subject provides an overview of ethics in the context of the experience of mental ill health which can place individuals in a position of disadvantage through diminished autonomy. Normative ethical approaches are problematic when applied to the moral deliberations of mental health care, such as the medicalisation of behaviour, coercion and involuntary treatment.

Inherent ethical challenges within mental health care will be explored through the lens of differing frameworks and traditions, including medical ethics and the core concepts of Buddhism.

This subject also explores range of issues of contemporary concern, including the natural world, (environment, animals, conservation, bioethics), death and dying (abortion, suicide, euthanasia, war), health, gender and sexuality, business and social responsibility.

Increasing individual ethical behaviour is at the heart of this subject: understanding the nature of ethical choices is also fundamental to a sound comprehension of Buddhism. This subject critically investigates a range of responses in relation to contemporary moral dilemmas, thereby highlighting possible contributions from—or gaps in—traditional Buddhist paradigms and perspectives.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the concepts, beliefs and world-views underlying the principles of ethics from differing perspectives, including bioethics and Buddhist ethics
  • Critically analyse the role of ethics within the context of mental ill health and the field of psychiatry
  • Critically analyse fundamental issues involved in the application of ethical principles
  • Critically evaluate and contemplate issues arising from applications of ethical principles in a variety of contemporary contexts e.g. age, disability, gender, culture, mental health, death and dying, coercion, compulsory treatment, and involuntary detention
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the concepts, beliefs and world-views underlying the principles of ethics as presented in Buddhist tradition

Subject Structure

This subject runs for ten weeks, via our online learning platform NTiLearn.




Nan Tien Institute (NTI) is a private, not for profit, government accredited higher education provider offering studies in the areas of Buddhist studies, health and wellbeing, within an environment that incorporates contemplative education.

NTI offers postgraduate programs in Applied Buddhist Studies, Health and Social Wellbeing, Humanistic Buddhism, and Mental Health as well as customised Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programs and special interest subjects across the areas of meditation, mindfulness and health.